4×4 for Dummies: Introduction

Whilst Emma has been running about in the hills, I have been to meet a 4×4 specialist.

Graham Finch, at Ash Garage

I loved it. I love the smell of garages and learning new stuff. Our conversation largely went like this:

“You’ll be needing a ground anchor”
“A what?”
“A ground anchor.”

“You’ll need a CV joint.”
“What’s a CV joint?”

You get the gist. Happily, Graham, although initially confused by my lack of knowledge, managed to work out where to start: with warnings about what will kill; an equipment list and; a quick look at his medal cabinet. No point in having medals if you don’t get to show them to anyone, that’s my belief.

Things that will kill us and other advice

We will need a winch. But, after we have attached a wire winch to the car, we should take the wire cable off and replace it with a rope. If the rope snaps and hits you, it will hurt. If the wire cable snaps, it could kill you! If there is a knot in the wire cable, stop using it. That is where it will snap.

Don’t use the army technique for doing something I’ve gone and forgotten, as it’s too easy to get it wrong. But as I don’t want to do it, I think forgetting it, is simply being organizationally tidy in my head.

Don’t tie on to the back of another car with a kinetic rope at any point that might break off and ping back at you. The energy in the rope will whip it extra fast, possibly into your face (okay, he didn’t say that exactly but, he told a story where it narrowly missed someone’s face). In fact, to be on the safe side, don’t take a kinetic rope.

Keep your ropes free of mud and thorns.

In action
In action

And I learned how to wind a rope on a winch – I feel strangely chuffed about this knowledge. I have a practical and useful skill.

Kit list:

  • A CV joint
  • A recovery rope – bought from an off road place to make sure its strong enough
  • Lifting straps – (2 metre and 4/5 metre)
  • Winch Rope
  • Gloves (and don’t grip the winch rope, pinch it, else you could lose your hand or finger– is it just me or is there a theme emerging?)
  • Snatch block
  • Winch bumper with cow bar
  • GPS


After this, I got to look at photos of cars vertical on a slope, with one wheel on the ground and various other crazy positions. Graham, himself, was brilliant – friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, patient and seemed pretty excited by the trip. What more could you want in a teacher?

If you know about 4x4s feel free to get in touch and give more advice.

June, July, August

June: the business of making money took over and all I could do was slip in a phone call to a marketing friend of a friend, who advised me, if I want to gain sponsorship I have to see it as a business deal. I like that idea, everyone wins.

July: Inspired by Emma I went on a 10K run/walk, which is great. But, the next day, I thought I was going to die. My teeth were chattering, I couldn’t get warm, my head felt like it was imploding, and I was rocking to and fro on the floor. After a couple of texts to friends I was advised, “no, this isn’t normal after a run” … and … “its probably sunstroke, get some electrolytes down you”. Which I think is a valuable lesson before taking a friend to run marathons in very hot and sunny countries.

August: A friend agrees I can work in his garage to learn how to fix a car. Current mechanical knowledge – I can check the oil, fill up the radiator water and windscreen wash, and put air in the tyres (though for some reason I have a slight phobia about doing this).

I also discover wordpress – its beautiful and they didn’t even offer me a discount to say this. Bought the book, £14, and a map of Namibia, £6.